Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat

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Told in flashback form, Barakat’s childhood self narrates this memoir of her life during and after the Six-Day War of 1967. To add context for readers unfamiliar with Middle Eastern history, the author provides a historical note before the memoir which explains the region’s tumultuous history. Though just a young child, the author endures separation from her family, life in an orphanage, poverty, and other wartime hardships. Barakat’s decision to tell most of her story through her three to six-year-old eyes gives the piece a highly emotional resonance, sure to reach all readers.

A truly powerful piece that illustrates the fact that the Middle Eastern crises effects even the youngest members of society. Barakat’s use of her childhood-self narrator certainly made me feel sympathetic toward her, as her thoughts and fears came across exactly as a frightened child’s would. What’s more, this piece made me highly grateful for my own childhood, as it was not riddled with midnight flights from an army trying to slaughter my family, starvation, and uncertainty. However, as powerful as Barakat’s memoir is, I still feel that some aspects of it are underdeveloped. The purpose of the first section remained unclear to me, and I wanted more by the time the book ended. The lack of focus does not detract from the message of the book, but may leave you unsatisfied if you like clearer endings.

Rating: 3.5/5

*IRA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award for Young Adult–Nonfiction, 2008

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

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